WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s trip to Europe (all times local):
Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he wants to persuade NATO allies to form a broader international coalition to deter Iranian threats and force its leaders back to the negotiating table over its nuclear program.
Esper says he needs to convince American allies that the latest increase in tension is not just “Iran versus the United States.”
He spoke to reporters who traveled with him to Brussels on Tuesday for a meeting of NATO defense ministers.
When Esper steps off his plane in Brussels on Tuesday, he will also have to assure his international counterparts and military commanders in the region that the U.S. military is in stable and capable hands, even though President Donald Trump has had three Pentagon chiefs in the past seven months.
Esper, who had been Army secretary, took over as interim Pentagon chief Monday, replacing Patrick Shanahan, who resigned.